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Discussion Paper - Local Habitat Assessment: Habitat Analysis Techniques for Counties, Watersheds and other Planning Areas

Category: Habitat - Land Use Planning

Date Published: June 19, 2009

Number of Pages: 10

Author(s): John Carleton and John Jacobson


To inform local land use planning, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has developed a suite of habitat analysis tools, referred to collectively as the Local Habitat Assessment (LHA). The LHA can be tailored to a particular planning scale, such as an entire county, large or small watershed, or a subarea. This discussion paper is meant to familiarize users of the LHA with the science and data used for the assessment.

The County or Watershed LHA tool is a geographic information system (GIS)-based technique to evaluate relative habitat value over broad areas. Results can be combined with other landscape characterization methods, such as Washington Department of Ecology’s watershed characterization methodology, as well as with local government parcel and infrastructure data sets. These combinations, or overlays, can provide important context for land use decisions, ideally reducing unintended environmental consequences in the planning process.